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Mystery

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BELIEVE AND LIVE – SERMON 4
“MYSTERY”
CENTRAL IDEA OF THE TEXT (CIT): PAUL’S TELLS THE EPHESIAN BELIEVERS THAT HIS CALLING WAS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES.
PROPOSITION: PAUL STATES THAT THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL IS THAT IT IS NOT EXCLUSIVE, BUT IS AVAILABLE TO ALL.
INTRODUCTION:
READ – PRAY
KLYNE SNODGRASS, IN HIS COMMENTARY ON EPHESIANS, SAYS THIS ABOUT THE BOOK: “APART FROM A FEW TERMS…EPHESIANS COULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN TO A MODERN CHURCH.”
THE TRUTH IS THAT THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS IS WRITTEN TO THE MODERN CHURCH, BECAUSE IT ADDRESSES ISSUES THAT WE ALL ENCOUNTER.
ISSUES LIKE POWER FOR LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, AND OUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST, WHICH ARE REALLY TWO OF THE PRIMARY THEMES IN THIS BOOK.
BUT ONE THING THIS BOOK ALSO DOES IS GIVE CLARITY TO THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL.
IT’S HARD FOR US TODAY TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS WAS WRITTEN, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT FOR US TO TRY TO.
THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS WAS A CHURCH THAT STILL STRUGGLED WITH THE DIVISION BETWEEN JEWISH BELIEVERS AND GENTILE BELIEVERS.
SO PAUL ATTEMPTS TO HELP THESE BELIEVERS, AND BY ASSOCIATION, YOU AND ME, FORM THEIR IDENTITY IN CHRIST. THE PURPOSE OF EPHESIANS IS THE SHAPING OF CHRISTIANS.
THAT BEING SAID, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MUST BE UNDERSTOOD IS WHAT IS REFERRED TO AS THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL…
WHAT IS THIS MYSTERY?
HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?
HOW DOES IS SPREAD TO OTHERS?
THAT’S WHAT WE’LL LOOK AT IN THESE VERSES…
NOTICE FIRST…
1. THE MYSTERY DISCOVERED ()
a. EXPLANATION:
i. THE MYSTERY WAS DISCOVERED BY WAY OF PAUL’S CALL TO THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
ii. PAUL PRESENTS THE MYSTERY HERE AS SOMETHING TO BE CELEBRATED BECAUSE GOD, IN HIS GREAT LOVE FOR ALL PEOPLE, GAVE PAUL A MESSAGE FOR THE GENTILES.
iii. PAUL WAS THE INSTRUMENT OF GOD’S GRACE TO THOSE OUTSIDE THE NATION OF ISRAEL.
iv. AND HERE, PAUL IS REVEALING HOW HE CAME TO KNOW THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL, SO THAT HE COULD SHARE THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL WITH THOSE WHO DESPERATELY NEEDED TO HEAR IT.
b. ILLUSTRATION:
i. PAUL’S SPEECH HERE TO THE GENTILE BELIEVERS IN EPHESUS WAS MEANT TO ENCOURAGE THESE BELIEVERS, AND TO MOTIVATE THEM – REMEMBER WE TALKED ABOUT MOTIVATION LAST WEEK – TO MOTIVATE THEM TO SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WITH OTHERS.
ii. THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY.
1. IT’S A BIT LIKE A GENDER REVEAL PARTY.
2. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE GENDER REVEAL?
3. IS IT JUST FOR THE SAKE OF INFORMATION?
a. OH, COOL, THEY’RE HAVING A BOY…OK, LET’S GO HOME…
b. NO! THE PURPOSE OF THE GENDER REVEAL PARTY IS SO THAT THE EXPECTANT COUPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES CAN DO TWO THINGS…
c. CELEBRATE AND PREPARE…
d. THEY CELEBRATE THE PROSPECT OF THAT BABY BOY OR GIRL…
e. AND NOW, THEY ARE ABLE TO PREPARE THEMSELVES AND OTHERS FOR THE ARRIVAL OF SAID BABY BOY OR GIRL!!!
c. APPLICATION:
i. PAUL, AS THE CHOSEN VESSEL OF GOD’S GRACE TO THE GENTILES, REMINDS THEM OF THIS TRUTH, AND THAT REMINDER IS INTENDED TO HELP THEM CELEBRATE THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GRACE OF GOD…
ii. AND HELP THEM PREPARE THEMSELVES AND OTHERS FOR THE CERTAIN RETURN OF CHRIST…
iii. YOU AND I HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO CELEBRATE THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL, AND TO HELP OTHERS PREPARE FOR ETERNITY BY SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH THEM…
d. AND SO WE SEE THE MYSTERY DISCOVERED…
2. THE MYSTERY DEFINED ()
a. EXPLANATION
i. THE GOSPEL IS FOR EVERYONE.
ii. LOOK AT WHAT PAUL LISTS HERE AS SOME OF THE PRIVILEGES OF BEING A RECIPIENT OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
1. FELLOW HEIRS
a. EVERYONE WHO IS IN CHRIST HAS THE SAME RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES IN THE CHURCH.
2. MEMBERS OF THE SAME BODY.
a. EVERYONE WHO IS IN CHRIST IS TO CONTRIBUTE TO AND BENEFIT FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST.
3. PARTAKERS OF THE PROMISE IN CHRIST JESUS THROUGH THE GOSPEL.
a. EVERYONE WHO IS IN CHRIST IS A RECIPIENT OF THE SAME PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
b. THERE ARE NO JUNIOR OR SENIOR CHRISTIANS.
iii. THIS TRUTH BRINGS TO LIGHT A COUPLE OF CONSIDERATIONS.
1. FIRST, WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE IN SHARING THE GOSPEL.
a. THERE IS NO ONE WHO IS UNWORTHY OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE.
b. THERE ARE NO DIVIDES THAT PROHIBIT SOMEONE FROM BEING A PART OF THE FAMILY OF GOD, EXCEPT THAT PERSON’S OWN REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE.
c. SO, WE CANNOT DISCRIMINATE…
2. SECOND, GOD EXPECTS US TO OPERATE IN UNITY.
a. GOD INTRODUCED US TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS UNITY AT THE END OF EPHESIANS, CHAPTER 2, WHEN HE INSPIRED PAUL TO WRITE ABOUT HOW BELIEVERS ARE BEING BUILT TOGETHER INTO A DWELLING PLACE FOR GOD…
b. AND HE WILL CONTINUE THE THEME IN CHAPTER 4.
3. BUT HE ALLUDES TO IT HERE, POINTING OUT THAT JEWISH AND GENTILE CHRISTIANS (MOST OF US ARE GENTILES) ARE ALL MEMBERS OF THE SAME BODY.
b. ILLUSTRATION
i. ILLNESS (UNHEALTHY)
ii. YOU KNOW WHAT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS CALL A BODY THAT IS ATTACKING ITSELF?
1. THEY CALLED IT A DISEASED BODY.
2. AND THERE ARE A COUPLE OF WAYS THAT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TRY TO REMEMDY THE ILLNESS.
a. THEY CAN SURGICALLY REMOVE THE PART OF THE BODY THAT IS CAUSING THE WHOLE BODY TO BE UNHEALTHY.
i. THIS IS THE MOST RADICAL AND LEAST DESIRABLE METHOD.
b. OR THEY CAN TREAT THE DISEASED PART OF THE BODY WITH THE HOPE THAT IT WILL BE RESTORED TO ITS INTENDED FUNCTION WITHIN THE BODY.
i. THIS IS THE MOST DESIRED METHOD.
3. SOMETIMES THE FIRST OPTION IS THE ONLY REMEDY, WHICH IS UNFORTUNATE.
4. BUT THE GOAL, I THINK, FOR EVERYONE IS TO HAVE ALL THE PARTS OF THE BODY WORKING IN UNITY.
a. WE CALL THAT HEALTH.
c. APPLICATION
i. THE SAME IS TRUE IN THE CHURCH.
1. WHEN A LOCAL BODY (PAUL WAS ADDRESSING A LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS), WHEN A LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS HAS, WITHIN IT, MEMBERS WHO ARE FIGHTING AGAINST THE OTHERS, IT CAUSES DISEASE IN THE BODY.
2. IT IS AN UNHEALTHY CHURCH.
ii. SO THE POINT HERE IS THAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT EXCLUSIVE – IT DOES NOT EXCLUDE – IT IS INCLUSIVE – IT IS INTENDED TO BE SHARED WITH EVERYONE.
d. I THINK THAT, DEEP DOWN, WE KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE, BUT WE OFTEN DON’T PRACTICE IT, BECAUSE OF PREJUDICES THAT HAVE WE HAVE BEEN CULTURALLY PROGRAMMED TO BELIEVE.
e. SO WE HAVE TO REALLY WORK HARD AN INCLUSION, BECAUSE WE ARE BY NATURE, BETTER AT EXCLUSION.
f. BECAUSE WE ARE NOW GOD’S CHOSEN DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR THE GOSPEL, JUST AS PAUL WAS TO THE GENTILES…
3. THE MYSTERY DELIVERED. ()
a. EXPLANATION
i. PAUL COMMENTS THAT HE WAS MADE A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE OF GOD, BY THE WORKING OF HIS POWER…
ii. AND EVEN THOUGH HE CONSIDERED HIMSELF THE LEAST AMONG THE SAVED, HE WAS CHOSEN TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS OF ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS TO THE GENTILES…
b. ILLUSTRATION
i. YOU KNOW, DELIVERY SYSTEMS ARE IMPORTANT…
ii. AND WE ARE CONSTANTLY WITNESSING UPGRADES TO THE WAY INFORMATION IS DELIVERED TO US…
iii. THINK OF THE PROGESS THAT HAS BEEN MADE OVER THE PAST 150 YEARS.
iv. WE’VE PROGRESSED FROM THE PONY EXPRESS, WHICH DELIVERED MAIL COAST-TO-COAST IN TEN DAYS, A VERY IMPRESSIVE FEAT…
v. TO THE ABILITY TO INSTANTLY COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD BY TEXT MESSAGE, EMAIL, VIDEO CHAT…
vi. AND WHILE ALL THESE DELIVERY SYSTEMS ARE GREAT…
vii. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR FACE-TO-FACE CONVERSATION…ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO SHARING THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL…
c. APPLICATION
i. PAUL STATES IN VERSE 10 THAT THROUGH THE CHURCH, THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD IS TO BE MADE KNOWN…
ii. DO YOU KNOW WHO THE CHURCH IS?
iii. YOU ARE…SO YOU ARE TO MAKE KNOW THE MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL…WHAT IS THAT MYSTERY AGAIN?
iv. THAT ANYONE CAN BE SAVED, REGARDLESS OF THE THINGS WE THINK PRECLUDE SOMEONE FROM DOING SO…
CONCLUSION:
BUT BEFORE YOU CAN SHARE THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS, YOU MUST FIRST ACCEPT THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS.
THAT JESUS WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN…
LIVED A SINLESS LIFE AS OUR EXAMPLE FOR GODLY LIVING…
THAT HE WAS CRUCIFIED, AND THAT IN THAT SELFLESS ACT, HE TOOK UPON HIMSELF YOUR SINS, SO THAT YOU COULD BE MADE RIGHTEOUS THROUGH HIS DEATH.
THAT HE DIED, AND WAS BURIED, AND THAT ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN, DEFEATING DEATH, AND GIVING ALL WHO TRUST IN HIM THE GUARANTEE OF ETERNAL LIFE.
AND THAT HE WILL RETURN ONE DAY TO RECEIVE ALL WHO PLACE THEIR FAITH IN HIM… AND THAT THEY WILL LIVE ETERNALLY…
MAYBE YOU ARE HERE, AND YOU HAVE NEVER PUT YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST…
YOU’VE BEEN TRUSTING IN GOOD DEEDS, OR CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, OR FAMILY, OR WHATEVER, BUT YOU REALIZE THAT TODAY, YOU NEED TO PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN TRULY SAVE YOU…
WILL YOU COME TO HIM TODAY?
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